Charlotte Douglas Airport • Welcome to airport heaven ….

Duty Free Stores Charlotte Douglas AirportYou’d be forgiven for thinking that this green, tree-filled utopia is merely a frequent flyer’s pipedream of how airports could be. But it’s not. It’s real. Welcome to North Carolina’s Charlotte Douglas International Airport, winner of the International Air Transport Association’s Airport of the Year 2010 and a newcomer in many industry Top 10s. As such, it’s not hard to imagine how pleased Duty Free Americas were to open their two outlets in this futuristic and fabulous destination.Located near North Carolina’s Renaissance Park and close to the border with South Carolina, the airport is five miles from Charlotte’s financial district. In 2010 it was the world’s seventh busiest airport, with a colossal 38 million passengers per year.The largest hub for US Airways activity, the central passenger terminal at Charlotte Douglas is a shopper’s paradise, with five concourses (A-E) fanning out to the airport’s four runways. Architecturally, the glass-enclosed atrium at its heart is the airport’s stunning pièce de resistance. Its tree-dotted boulevard is sprinkled with white rocking chairs and offers awesome runway views. It’s the perfect place to recharge before setting off for some duty free retail therapy (or to the Terminal Getaway Spa for some massage therapy).

With over 85 concessions from giftware to cosmetics and two duty free stores, this is the ideal place to shop, dine work and relax • as the airport’s strap-line promises. For entertainment value, or great value entertainment, InMotion is a one-stop-shop with the latest in tablet PCs and digital wizardry from Sony, Panasonic and Monster. PSP and Nintendo gamers will find plenty to drool over too.

If on a business trip, gentlemen can reward their hard work with a treat from the PGA Tour Shop or handcrafted leather goods from Brighton. High-flying women, on the other hand, might prefer the exquisite jewellery of Erwin Pearl or Taxco Sterling Co, or the stylish clothing, accessories and eyewear at Johnstone & Murphy. For a shiny new toy to help access the airport’s exhaustive free Wi-Fi network, the BlackBerry window beckons.For tax free shopping at Charlotte Douglas, make a beeline for Duty Free Americas. Their main store is located in the middle of the atrium, with a second outlet on the left as you stroll along Concourse D. With unmissable perfume and men’s fragrance offers from Lancôme, Estée Lauder, Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein and Dior, this is haute-couture for your skin. Once scented to impress • grab another bottle of something special, from vintage Dom Perignon to Scottish single malts like Glenfiddich or Bruichladdich (far easier to swallow than it is to pronounce).To ensure you get that flight to the sun on time, head to Shades of Time near the atrium’s Duty Free Americas shop. To fully appreciate its dazzling display of prestige watches from Emporio Armani, D&G, DKNY, Guess, Police and Juicy Couture, you might just need some new designer sunglasses: think Rayban, Christian Lacroix, Swarovski, Ted Baker and Oakley for starters.

If in transit, don’t fret about missing downtown Charlotte’s Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Thanks to the airport’s huge investment in its Just Plane Art programme, Charlotte Douglas boasts 20 permanent, rotating exhibitions. These include bronze sculptures, 3D installations and a half-scale replica of the Wright brothers’ Wright Flyer. Back then, passengers would have worried for their lives. All today’s passengers have to worry about is a little less life-and-death: more the Dior or the Donna Karan, darling?